Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saxons vs. Vikings

A couple of my brother's friends came over for a game today, so Dad decided to haul out his old multiply-based Dark Ages armies and try them on a little Warhammer Ancient Battles action. (Somewhat tweaked to account for the basing and whatnot.) William and I took the defending Saxons, while our guests took the marauding Vikings. We set up position with a small village to our right, and a pair of low hills between the opposing armies.

The Saxon Eorl prepares for battle.

Little does this shepherd realize that his peaceful pastures will soon be soaked in blood!

The first few turns were fairly uneventful, as both armies advanced towards each other. The Vikings took up positions on a pair of small hills, much to our chagrin, as we figured the high ground would make them difficult to push back.

Vikings on a hill. Saxon huscarls moving up on the left, thegns to their right.

The next couple turns saw the armies meet and clash--a group of lighter Viking bondir dashed out from the Viking lines to attack my elite huscarls, while William's thegns, to my right, overcame their fear of the Vikings, broke their shieldwall and charged impetuously up the hill towards the waiting foe.

"Ut! Ut! Ut!" 

Despite the odds, the thegns managed not to lose that combat. Meanwhile, the Vikings did not fare well against my huscarls. In fact, they broke and ran... inciting panic in much of the Viking center. Including the troops on the hill, despite the presence of the Viking chief, who was promptly dubbed "Ragnar Brown-breeks."

"Wait, come back! We haven't finished stabbing you yet!"

It took two turns for their leader to stem the rout, and by that point a number of the lesser troops had fled the field and we had gained a good deal of ground on the right flank. On the left flank, however, things weren't going so well--a group of my scruffy fyrdsmen had routed after attempting a similar charge up the hill, and were overrun by pursuing Vikings. My better-equipped thegns were similarly repulsed, and narrowly escaped being run down themselves, despite the presence of the Eorl himself.

Vikings in hot pursuit of my thegns.

Fortunately we were able to turn and rally before the Vikings slammed into us, and a protracted melee developed. Our long spears, deployed in depth, were beginning to give us the advantage, when events on the other flank intervened.

Melee on the left. The Vikings on the right have stemmed the rout, and are facing our thegns and huscarls again.

A large group of fyrdsmen had been making their way through the village off to the right, despite some opposition from a band of bow-armed Vikings. It was about at this point that they finally emerged from among the huts and hedges, uncomfortably close to Ragnar Brown-breeks' left flank. Finding himself rather outnumbered, Ragnar decided to break the standoff that had been developing over the past few turns, and to charge our shieldwall of thegns and huscarls. This didn't work out too well, and his troops fled the field. Although the other Viking commander still had most of his forces intact, at this point it was decided that Saxon arms had carried the day, so we packed it in.

Field at the end of the battle--there's a Viking column coming up the center that didn't quite make it to the scene of action in time.

Overall, it seemed like a pretty good game--though we did get a lucky break early on, for a while it looked as though things were going to swing back the other way. And while we glossed over some aspects of the rules, it was good to brush up on the basic WAB mechanics again.

And next, off to Maine, where we will join forces with the redoubtable Ross Macfarlane for Huzzah! (Well, technically we leave Thursday, but I don't anticipate much happening in the miniatures line over the next few days...)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

More of the same

Leaving aside the world of LEGOs for the time being, I've continued working on my Bronze Age stuff.

First up: a standard-bearer in a chariot:

That'll fill out my Mitanni chariot corps for the time being, though I still have some Assyrian chariots to do as well as maybe one or two others. (I've got several boxes of Hittite chariots sitting around unassembled; I've been considering painting up a few, given how much my painting technique has evolved since I did the first ones about five years ago.)

Next up, another stand of Sea Peoples. This'll be the last of them, for now--six stands will probably be sufficient for my Historicon scenario, counting my four and Dad's two. Also, four stands is about all I can squeeze out of one of Caesar's boxes, though I have a few spares left over--I have a couple ideas as to what I'll do with those...

And, speaking of the Historicon scenario, I've been adding to my baggage train. Here we have a second pack donkey, four porters carrying bags, (from the Egyptian Chariot set) and a stand of cattle selected from the Atlantic Stampede set. Together with what I already have, this should give me enough baggage for now. (Unless I come up with a neat idea before July...)

I probably won't have much time to paint for about a week or so--we've got a game planned for tomorrow, then I have some non-miniatures stuff to take care of before we head off to Huzzah next weekend! So expect a report on that at some point...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hordes of the LEGOs

And now, as they say, for something completely different! Or rather, a couple of completely different things. My brother has spent the past few weeks digging around in our LEGO collection in preparation for his own Historicon game, but the other day he and I sat down and pieced together a couple of pseudo-medieval armies for Hordes of the Things. This afternoon, we had an opportunity to sit down and play a few games with them, which was mildly amusing--unfortunately, the selection of figures available to us did not allow for a whole lot of variation between the armies, but here's what we came up with:

The Army of King Leo (Red)

1x Knight General
1x Knights
2x Riders
1x Paladin
2x Shooters
4x Spears

The Army of Count Falco (Blue)

1x Knight General
1x Knights
1x Magician
2x Shooters
2x Blades
4x Spears

Before game 1

I took the blue side, William took the red. The first two games went pretty quickly--first game, my general got cut off and surrounded; second game, his general charged into my archers and was unceremoniously shot out of the saddle. The third game went a bit longer, and saw me finally get a chance to apply my infantry advantage, as my blades cut through his spears. Our shooters scuffled around in the one patch of woods for a while to no effect, while he attempted to outflank me with his riders and paladin. Unfortunately for him, my knight general was able to best his paladin this time, and so Count Falco claimed victory.

A couple of turns into game 3.

Infantry meet on the hill.

The blades break through.

End of the game. William's infantry is gone, and his flanking maneuver has failed.

After we cleared all the LEGOs off the table, Dad and I set up a different game--a little fantasy skirmish with A Song Of Blades And Heroes. My previous experience with this rules system was not particularly encouraging, but it worked somewhat better this time around. I still don't care for the activation system, and I think the game's notions of troop "quality" are a little counterintuitive, but at least it plays fast. My humans eventually chased off Dad's orcs, though not without a few casualties, including their leader. (Apparently he wasn't that good in combat--I guess that's to be expected when you don't wear your helmet and stand around gesturing at things in a commanding manner rather than actually picking up a weapon...)

Shortly after the first orcs appeared. My ill-fated leader is one of the fellows standing behind the wall.

End of the game. The two men by the building have just dispatched the last orc--two managed to escape off the table.

Dad was taking some pictures during the game, so there may be more pictures up on his blog at some point...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Asses & Assyrians

Now that I've signed up to run a pair of Bronze Age games at Historicon this summer, I've been focusing on getting more figures done for that particular project--there's a number of things I would like to get done before then, and only a couple of months to do them.

First up, my eighth and probably final (at least for now) block of Hittite spears. I have plenty of these guys already, I've painted pretty much all the ones I own, and I don't think I'll need any additional ones for the scenario I have in mind.

Next up, the first fruits of my brainstorm from a few weeks ago. This is intended as an Assyrian chariot from the period stretching from the Assyrian Old Kingdom to the end of the bronze age, suitable as vassals of the Mitanni kingdom or a power in their own right. Its historicity is somewhat suspect, as I basically just swapped out some horses and stuck some of Caesar's Assyrian Chariot crew (who are from an era several centuries later) in one of their familiar Mitanni chariots, but it looks different, and that's what counts for me here.

One thing that I will need for my game is a baggage train--I have some cows and an oxcart already, and I wanted to add a few more elements to that. So here's a pack donkey who has been sitting in my box unpainted for some time. He actually started life as a zebra from a Tarzan set, but a blob of modeling putty and some florist's wire has given him a new purpose in life. (I have another one sitting in a box somewhere that I haven't got around to loading up yet.) The fellow along with him is one of Caesar's Hebrews, who I painted up a while back as one of a few random civilian types.

Lastly, here we have another stand of the ferocious Sea Peoples. I finally got to the craft store this weekend to pick up a few new brushes, which has made the detail work on these guys considerably easier. Their active poses make them a little difficult to fit eight to a base, but I managed.

In the pipeline now are some additional cows, one more stand of Sea Peoples infantry, and more chariots (of course), including a standard-bearer for the Mitanni, the rest of my Assyrian contingent, and a leader for the Sea Peoples. After that... we'll see. I have my eye on some Arabians, but I really just want the scruffy infantry; I don't have much use for those camels...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Maps, part V

The same caveats hold here as with I-IV.  These maps are fictional, do not depict real history, and should not be used as resources, nor are they intended as a political statement about the inhabitants of any given piece of land, now or at any time in our past.

First up, a couple more maps of an alternate West Africa--actually the same setting as the last map in part IV. I had some fun playing around with somewhat different techniques on these:

Next up is actually a future history map, rather than alternate history, showing settlements on Mars. A few of the ideas here are actually ones I've had floating around for a couple of years; I was idly considering using them in the background of a roleplaying game at some point, but never got around to it.
Two centuries in the future, the Solar System is slowly being colonized as advances in superconductors allow ships to "sail" between planets, borne on the charged particles of the solar wind. Humanity has once again entered an age of exploration and colonization, and the great powers of Earth--national, supranational and corporate alike--strive to lay claim to the resources now within their reach.

Mars remains an uninviting place, despite the terraforming plans being laid out by the Long Run Foundation, but many of the great powers have planted a few token colonies--many of them having grown up around early scientific bases or research stations, others exploiting the planet's mineral resources. For some smaller groups, Mars offers  the chance to build a new society away from the prying eyes and laws of Earth. Many of these stake out claims in the "International Territory" or cut deals with the major powers--or simply squat on others' turf, gambling that no one will care enough to evict them.

But a few have come to the Red Planet against their will. Several decades ago, the European regime saw an opportunity to finally deal with some of their troublesome minorities--and so thousands of Basques and other "undesirable subnationals" were given the choice between increasing persecution on Earth or freedom on Mars. Those who chose Mars have done their best to forge a new nation for themselves, and recently have thrown off the yoke of the "Martian Resettlement Supervisory Council," proclaiming themselves the "Basque Republic of Mars."

The last one of this batch was inspired by reading up on the Samaritans, who still exist today as a tiny minority in the Levant. What if things had gone more favorably for them?
Cyrus the Great decides not to release the Jewish people from their Babylonian exile, and only a few end up returning to the land of Judah. Instead, over time the religious composition of the Levant shifts towards the Samaritans, a Hebrew-speaking ethnoreligious group descended from the northern kingdom of Israel, with their own version of the Torah and their own holy site of Mount Gerizim.

The Achaemenid Empire dominated the Near East for several centuries, and at times exerted some measure of control over the Greek mainland. As a result, Magna Graecia saw a bit more immigration, and a Greek-speaking polity in Sicily was for several centuries the major rival of the rising Roman Republic for control of the Western Mediterranean before being overcome.

The Roman Republic of this world had little in common with that of ours, being in some ways both more and less Hellenized, but over time it acquired significant eastern territories from a variety of Achaemenid successors, including a largely Samaritan "Kingdom of Israel." The Samaritans got along somewhat better with their new overlords than the Jews did with the OTL Romans, and were not scattered across the Empire. Neither do they spawn any sort of spin-off interested in converting large numbers of Gentiles; Samaritanism remains strongly linked to its homeland and its holy places.

Fast-forward a couple of millennia. Rome is long since fallen, though its influence remains in many nations of the Mediterranean, even those overrun by Celts, Germans, and various nomadic peoples. The Near East was, for a long time, split between an Egypt-based Roman successor, and a resurgent Persia, with Israel usually falling under the sway of the former. But in recent centuries, the diverse states of western Europe have been experiencing a scientific and industrial revolution, while the empires of the Near East have fallen behind. Persia has retreated into a state of semi-isolation, while the last dynasty of Egypt has been overthrown: without them, the lands of the Levant have been splitting apart along ancient ethnic and religious faultlines, and a Samaritan state of Israel has emerged once more.

And in the unremarkable provincial town of Yerushalem dwell the last members of an obscure and dwindling sect known as "Ezraic Samaritans," or "Yehudim," of interest only to a few ethnologists...

And that's it for now! Time to go paint some chariots...